Now that it's winter, all I want from my reading material is warmth and escapism. I've no desire for angsty, broody, deep, dark, and meaningful. I want fun and frothy and joyful and charming. To that end, I decided that it was high time I got around to reading Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy
. I've read a number of Heyer's books in the past, but, somehow, I had never managed to read this one in spite of it being among so many readers' favorite Heyer novels. And, now, having finally read it, I understand why. It's witty and charming and utterly delightful and it has a monkey. And exclamation points! Lots of exclamation points! But that quirk of punctuation is common to Heyer's novels; I suppose her characters are all just highly passionate and enthusiastic in their speech.
Sophy is the only daughter of a diplomat and has spent her life traveling with him from place to place and has never had much supervision or discipline. When her father heads off for South America, he deposits Sophy with his sister in London with instructions for her to find Sophy a suitable match. Sophy, of course, is more than that dear lady bargained for and proceeds to turn the household upside down. Sophy is a bit like Jane Austen's Emma, if Emma were completely unaware of propriety and in possession of a monkey. (I'm making much of the monkey, I know, and it really didn't play a large part in the story, but it somehow seemed to illustrate Sophy's innocent mischief quite perfectly.)
Sophy's eldest cousin, Charles, has control of the family purse strings and is engaged to a rather serious and upright woman whom none of the rest of the family cares for. Cecilia, on the other hand, fancies herself in love with a poet with no prospects. Sophy, naturally, sees that it is her responsibility to find them more suitable matches. Of course, she hasn't any clue as how to behave in society and manages to scandalize the entire family with her outrageous behavior. In the end, though, it's her unique outlook and uninhibited behavior that bring everyone together with their perfect mates.
If you're looking for a frothy confection of a novel, but one more similar to a mille-feuille than a cupcake, The Grand Sophy is the perfect book for you. The characters are rich and multi-layered, giving depth of flavor to this delightful bit of spun sugar. Treat yourself to an evening with Sophy. I promise you won't regret it.